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SEA-TAC'S INCREASED CONGESTION 'REDUCES MARGIN OF SAFETY'

 BELLEVUE, Wash., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- National aviation safety analyst John Nance told the Puget Sound Regional Council today that allowing air traffic congestion to grow at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport without increasing air transportation capacity "reduces the margin of safety" for travelers.
 Nance was one of a number of industry experts speaking in support of the Flight Plan, a proposal to add a third runway at Sea-Tac, use Everett's Paine Field for limited commercial air traffic and explore options for a satellite airport in Southern Puget Sound in the next century.
 "Airplanes have redundant safety systems built into them so that, for example, if the primary hydraulics system fails, you have a backup," Nance said. "This same concept of reducing the chance for system failure must be applied to Sea-Tac as well."
 According to Nance, a third runway increases the buffer between safe operations and potential tragedy, especially given the fact that air travel usage is only going to increase in the years ahead. Not generating more capacity means more congestion in the skies as planes wait to land and on the ground -- another potential safety problem.
 PSRC member and Seattle City Councilwoman Martha Choe asked Nance if there was a correlation between increased congestion and ground collision incidents.
 "Yes," replied Nance. "Nationally, at airports where congestion is a problem, we're seeing more ground collisions." This was the case two years ago at Los Angeles International where a larger plane on final approach hit a smaller commuter plane as it taxied across the runway.
 "I'm not saying that if you don't build a third runway, that an accident will happen," Nance said. "I'm saying that it certainly reduces the airport's margin of safety."
 Nance, a commercial airline pilot, is one of the nation's leading aviation safety specialists and serves as a consultant to Cable News Network. He lives in Tacoma and has authored several books, both fiction and nonfiction.
 Capt. Tom Cufley, vice president for flight operations and chief pilot at Alaska Airlines, provided another "view from the cockpit" and the effects of increased congestion on flying a large airplane.
 Cufley noted that in certain limited visibility conditions, planes now are required to "line up" on a specific reference point at Sea-Tac during final approach and then "side-step" to the actual runway on which they will land. This procedure, necessary with the current available runways at Sea-Tac, must be taken at between 300 feet and 500 feet above ground -- a tricky maneuver, given that pilots like to be lined up on a straight approach in the final seconds before landing.
 Cufley also said that in IFR (or very limited visibility) conditions, planes must lengthen their "legs" of approach to the airport while at the same time "reconfiguring" the plane with more power to keep it flying at a lower rate of speed with flaps and wheels down. The result is more noise over a greater area, and more planes "stacked up" in a relatively small air space waiting to land. A third runway would reduce the time planes spend in the air, according to Cufley.
 -0- 1/28/93
 /CONTACT: Brad Jurkovich of Air Washington, 206-389-7271/


CO: ST: Washington IN: AIR SU:

KJ-JB -- SE012 -- 0555 01/28/93 20:12 EST
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Date:Jan 28, 1993
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